Two days later, I still cannot get through. No one is home. I think, it can't end here. I must have learned something. Surely, in ordering things, a pattern appears. Surely, the arbitrary uncovers a private logic. There must be more. In Sweden, the range of the alphabet is 28 keys compared to
our rudimentary 26; it pulls out W but then it extends three letters beyond Z and ends on this note of pain: AA--AA--oo. What does it do them? Their suicide rate is the highest in the world.

Backta, yells my mother. All the world dissolves; I freeze in my tracks.
I have to speak to her.

I stop calling when it is clear that they are avoiding my call or gone; a week later, I try again.

A man picks up the phone.

Hello, who is this?
Jonathan Hertzsprung.
Ah, Jonathan? This is Uncle Max. Do you remember me? How are you
You want to talk to Hanna? Is that it? She's here you know. On a visit.
Yes. I want Hanna.
Wait a minute. I'll get her.

But it's not Hanna who answers the phone. It is Anna, who gives me directions.
Is anything wrong? I ask.
No. She wants to see you as soon as possible. That's all.
Let me talk to her--

A few hours later, I find her waiting by the door of a small white clapboard house.
She seems glad to see me. Why didn't you contact me before? I ask. She frowns as if puzzled. Anna purses her lips, trying to supress a smile.
I didn't tell him, she says.

My mother puts her hands to her face and begins weeping. She has been humiliated by Anna too many times. This is no different.
Whar? she cries.
Then, much like an animal that has been trained senseless, she looks at me and opens her mouth wide. She doesn't have a tongue. There's only a carved out stump.
Your father did that to her, says Anna calmly, venomously.

My mother begins to sign frantically. I hold her hands in mine. They are hot, her face is hot,
as if she has lived all these years in fever.
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